Every recruiter and human resource professional knows all to well that an important aspect of interview preparation is preparing your “sales presentation”. When your recruiting process turns up a really good prospect, you need to be prepared to convince them of the many good reasons to join your team.
Selling a good candidate – yes that’s what you MUST do – cannot be left to chance.
- Here are some important questions to consider when preparing your marketing strategy and presentation to the candidate:
- What is unique or different about the work the candidate would be doing that most candidates would see as stimulating?
- What is unique or different about your work environment that most good candidates would see as particularly positive?
- What are you prepared to say concerning your commitment to personal training and career development?
- What kind of favorable picture can you paint concerning opportunities for career advancement?
- What does it take to advance in this organization?
- What are the career avenues and options?
- Can you cite examples of others who have worked under you and experienced excellent advancement?
- How will you describe the following items in the most favorable terms?
- The “performance evaluation process” (how people are evaluated and recognized for their contributions).
- The “salary administration program” (how employees are treated and rewarded financially for their contributions).
- The benefits program (uniqueness, distinctiveness).
If you want to convince high performers to come aboard and join your team, be particularly sensitive to any areas (see preceding questions) where you might be less competitive or about these areas in advance, rather than fumbling through them when confronted by the candidate during the interview. Think of ways you can put the most positive spin on these descriptions.
Finally, be sure that your interview plan has a strategy for “qualifying” the candidate. Any good salesperson knows that to make the sales, you must understand what will motivate your prospect to buy. The process used for defining these motivational factors is what is referred to as “qualifying the buyer”. You must, therefore, determine what will motivate the candidate to leave his or her current position and join your organization.
Strategically, these motivational factors normally fall into two categories: “Pain” factors and “Gain” factors. The pushing factors are those elements of the candidate’s current job or work environment with which he or she is not totally satisfied. These factors are pushing the candidate away from that employer and causing him or her to look elsewhere. The pulling factors, on the other hand (ass you might guess), are those elements of your job opening and work environment that the candidate toward employment with your organization.
It is wise to establish both to these factors early in the interview discussion (or perhaps during an initial telephone screen of the candidate before the on-site interview) by asking one or more to the following questions:
If your candidate has been head-hunted or you’re “courting” them skip these questions until you feel they have asked you all of their questions and seem to be satisfied with your answers. I’ve seen many meetings which should have gone well become derailed because the interviewer thought the person was “looking for a job” , when in fact, they were approached, and asked to consider an opportunity. Don’t make this mistake!
- To Establish Pain Factors:
- A) David, obviously if you were totally satisfied at the ABC Company, we wouldn’t be talking here today. What are some of the factors in your current work situation with which you are not completely satisfied? Why are these important to you?
- B) David, what are some of the factors you would hope to find in a new employment situation that are not present in your current work situation, and why are these important to you?
- To Establish Gain Factors:
- A) David, what are some of the factors that motivated you to come and talk with us today? What did you find attractive?
- B) What was there about the description of our opportunity here at ABC Company that sounded appealing to you?
Answers to both the pushing and pulling factors will provide you with some great material for crafting an effective marketing strategy. You now know what is important to the candidate and can design your sales presentation to emphasize these factors, thereby substantially improving your chances of landing the high-performance candidate. You should ask these questions early in the interview discussion, however, so you will buy some time to put together a successful sales strategy.
These motivational factors also will come in handy later, when you make an employment offer. Any good offer strategy will include some discussion with the employment candidate that reinforces the idea that theses important needs can be well met in your work environment. This adds a certain amount of additional value that the candidate should find quite appealing if he or she elects to accept your offer and join your organization.
As part of your sale, you will also want to have other information available on the day of the interview so that you can provide the candidate with extensive data on both the company and community. These should include such items as:
- Copy of the job description.
- Annual report.
- Recent press releases (that say positive things about the company).
- Product literature.
- Copy of a recent company newspaper or other similar employee communications document (especially if there are appropriate articles that could help your cause).
- Summary of company benefits.
- Information on local community.
- Housing information.
If an out-of-town candidate looks promising, based on early telephone interviews, you may want to include a short tour or the area for a quick “look-see” on the interview day. It adds a special personal touch if you do this personally; however, if your schedule does not permit this extra, you may want to enlist the services of a knowledgeable real estate agent.
In any event, there should be a reasonable attempt to remove any of the candidate’s doubts and concerns about what the local community has to offer by giving him or her a brief glimpse through a personal tour. This also demonstrates a degree of sensitivity and concern for the personal needs to the candidate that is normally very much appreciated. The warm feelings generated by this kind of personal attention can go a long way toward getting the candidate t say yes when it’s time to offer employment.
GREETING THE CANDIDATE
You know that old saying, “It’s the little things that are important”. Well, this is true in interviewing as well. The small things that you do during the interview all demonstrate your interest in, and concern for, the candidate. The message to the candidate says, “You are important to me”. Since people like to feel that they are important and matter to others, this message will get you a lot of mileage when it comes time for the employment offer and the candidate begins to think about whether he or she would enjoy working for you. It is at just that time that those “warm feeling” will likely again return, and the candidate will feel more positively inclined.
One of those little things you can create this warmth is to go to the lobby to greet the candidate personally. This friendliness and congeniality will encourage the candidate to feel that you care and that you are not a formal, stuffy individual who likes to maintain distance from subordinates. It will also help to set a more relaxed, informal tone for the interview formation – exactly what you want to have happen in the interview discussion.
Before going to the conference room, it is probably a food idea to take the candidate to your office for 10 or 15 minutes in preparation for the interview day. Offer the candidate a cup of coffee and take a few minutes to explain what is to take place. Provide the candidate with a copy of the interview schedule and go over the names and relationships of the interview team participants so the interviewee will know what to expect and who will be present.
Explain that the interview team will be meeting with the candidate as a group, but following this discussion you will have some one-on-one time together back here at your office, when you can answer the many questions that he or she may have about the particulars of the job and/or the company. Provide some explanation about how the team interview process will be conducted so there will be “no surprises”.
This pre-meeting sets the stage for the formal interview, and puts the candidate at ease about what is going to happen. Typically, this informative discussion will relieve some of a candidate’s anxiety and give the person a greater sense of expectation and control. Thus, the candidate will be more relaxed and natural, which is far more conducive to an effective and open interview discussion than if the candidate is anxiety ridden and “uptight”. This more relaxed state will also give you a more accurate reading about what the candidate is typically like in the daily work environment, which is important in making accurate observations abut his or her normal, everyday behavior.
Following this brief pre-meeting, you will then want to escort the candidate to the conference room, where the rest to the interview team is waiting. Make the appropriate introductions, offer some more coffee, and allow a couple of minutes for the candidate to get settled in with some small talk with the other members of the group. Once the candidate is comfortable, it is time for the interview introduction.
In the group interview setting, it is common for one group member to manage the interview process and ask the interview questions (following the interview plan). Traditionally, this same person sets the stage for the interview through a brief, but carefully worded introductory statement.
Such an introductory statement to frame the interview might go as follows:
David, we really appreciate your joining us here this morning and the interest you have expressed in our opportunity. Our review of your background indicates that you have some interesting qualifications and we are looking forward to our discussion.
As you know David, we will be talking to you about the position, as you know of Corporate Accounting Manager. This position, as you know, reports to me and is accountable for (brief description of principal duties)…
David, since we are talking about an important career move for you and a key management position for us here at ABC Corporation, it is important for both of us as open and straightforward with one another as possible. We are going to want to know as much as possible about your education, work experience, knowledge, skills, and overall capabilities for the type of work we offer. Likewise, you will want to know about the job, our work environment, career opportunities, and other items that will be important to your making a good career decision.
Through an open sharing of information, we can jointly determine whether this will be a good fit for both of us. Being a good fit, of course, is of great importance to your professional satisfaction and overall career happiness. Likewise, a good fit will mean we have a satisfied and productive employee. So, let’s be as open and candid as possible in our discussions with one another.
David, I’d like to begin our discussion by learning more about our educational background. Tell me about (begin interview with first question form your interview plan)…
This kind of introduction tends to put both the company and the candidate on an equal footing. Both have an equal amount to gain (or lose) from the employment decision, so it stresses the importance of openness and frankness of the interview discussion. By positioning the interview in this way, the candidate can see the value to be gained by being open and disclosing. This is a nice way of reminding the candidate of the dangers of overselling and accepting a position that is an inappropriate match. The result is typically for the candidate to be more natural and avoid the temptation to overstate his or her abilities – form which nobody gains.
Additionally, explaining the basic focus of the interview process as well as the topics to be covered tends to frame the interview. Again, this helps to alleviate some candidate anxiety by helping the person better anticipate what lies ahead.